Message testing pays off - 6 August 2014

Bus with It's Not OK messageMessages for the Whangarei It's not OK Campaign were tested with more than 200 people, a process which built strong support for the final result.

The messages appeared on billboards, banners and in radio ads and were supported by a mini booklet featuring well known locals and listing helping services.

A committee representing Government and NGO social services work shopped ideas and decided on two themes for the Whangarei It's not OK Campaign:

  • children are our rangatira
  • partner abuse is not OK.Whangarei bus

They then brainstormed 10 key messages for pre-testing with elders, families, colleagues and friends. Feedback showed the community wanted:

  • strong direct messages making it very clear that family violence is not OK
  • strength based messages that encourage positive behaviour change.

The challenge was to find a good balance between the aims of the campaign organisers and honouring feedback from the community, spokesperson Liz Inch said.

"Another challenge was keeping the work on schedule. We often stalled because members of the group wanted to pre-test more. It became clear we had a big responsibility to get it right," she said.

"We faced some opposition, particularly from stakeholders who assumed we would use Maori images. Our committee was quite big which was a barrier to meeting regularly."

However as the project came together it developed a momentum of its own.

"Because we had consulted widely and demonstrated that we were listening, we gained trust. That trust translated into opportunities with the Whangarei District Council, Northern Advocate newspaper and others.

"Having local champions to put their faces and voices to the campaign was another key success," Ms Inch said.

"The backbone of our campaign was the It's not OK team in Wellington — particularly in graphic design advice and support from the team."

In recent years the Whangarei community had run an elder abuse campaign in Kaitaia and a community arts project about family violence in Whangarei.

Ms Inch said it had taken three years and the earlier campaigns to really achieve traction to affect change in the community.

This work stems from GenerationALL who since 2005 have been collectively promoting a violence free community. The Family Violence It's not OK in Whangarei steering committee consists of members from Northland District Health Board, Women's Refuge, Barnardos, Ngati Hine Health Trust, The Pulse, Manaia Health PHO and Toll Stadium.


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